Fact Sheet on life'sDHA

Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, is a long chain omega-3 fatty acid that is found throughout the body. More specifically, it is a major structural fat in the brain and the retina of the eye and is a key component of the heart. A growing body of research continues to support the important role that DHA plays for both mother and baby.

• DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and eyes (retina). DHA represents about 97% and 93% of all omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and eyes, respectively.1-2

• Breast milk is the optimal method for infant feeding. DHA is always present in human breast milk. 5

• The developing infant receives DHA from the mother through the placenta during pregnancy and in breast milk after birth.5-7

• Expert panels recommend that DHA intake be 200-300mg per day for pregnant and nursing women.8-9

• On average, pregnant and nursing women in North America consume 60-80mg of DHA a day, only 20-40% of the recommended intake.10-11

• Breast milk DHA levels are dependent on the mother’s diet.12-24 Because of a low DHA dietary intake, American women reportedly have lower DHA levels in their breast milk than their international counterparts.5

• Maternal DHA supplementation was shown to increase the mother’s blood and breast milk DHA levels. This, in turn, elevated the blood DHA levels of both the fetus and breast-feeding infant. 12-13, 24-30

References
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3. Salem, N Jr, et al. Mechanisms of action of docosahexaenoic acid in the nervous system. Lipids, 2001. 36:945-59.
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5. Yuhas R, et al. Human milk fatty acid composition from nine countries varies most in DHA. Lipids 2006;41:851-8.
6. Koletzko B, et al. Placental transfer of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA).J Perinat Med. 2007 Feb;35 Suppl 1:S5-S11.
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Women http://www.perilip.org/PERILIPRecommendations.html
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24. FAO/WHO Expert Committee. “Fats and oils in human nutrition,” Food and Nutrition Paper. FAO, Rome, Italy. 1994. No.57. 49-55.
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27. Otto SJ, et al. The effect of supplementation with docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid derived from single cell oils on plasma and erythrocyte fatty acids of pregnant women in the second trimester. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2000. 63:323-8.
28. Jensen CL, et al. Effect of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation of lactating women on the fatty acid composition of breast milk lipids and maternal and infant plasma phospholipids. Am J Clin Nutr, 2000. 71:292S-9S.
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31. Hart SL, et al. Brief report: newborn behavior differs with docosahexaenoic acid levels in breast milk. J Pediatr Psychol, 2005. 31:221-6.
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